“Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man’s power ends.” – George Muller
Recently, the worthwhile religious organization, Answers in Genesis, that is rebuilding Noah’s Ark in Kentucky, sent me a letter with a flag inside. The idea was to sign my name along the edge of the flag with a view to the flag being displayed when the exhibition is formally opened on July 7, 2016. Of course, a generous donation was to accompany the returned flag. For those unable to think of how much money was to be given as donation, several large dollar amounts were “suggested”. So, there it was, the cause, the “gift”, the suggested amount to donate. The letter and information was all very slick and professionally done.
From a secular organization, I have received peel off and stick on return address labels with my name and address, and an appeal to donate to the worthy organization that took the time to find me, for indirect pressure, guilt, and financial support. If I do not return a donation after all the organization has done for me, what kind of person am I?
I must confess. I always keep the return address labels, and never send money. If the organization wants to squander money sending out unsolicited address labels, someone in that organization should be fired for mismanagement of resources.
What the world does in the way money is raised may be clever and successful, but what the church does in the way it raises money must bring honor to God. That is my concern. When the church, or Christian parachurch organizations, begins to pressure God’s people, and then tries to make merchandise out of the saints, I am concerned. My heart aches when worldly practices are brought into the church.
When a Christian ministry is facing a financial crisis, the first practical solution is to consider if there is waste, fraud, or abuse. How did a local church, in particular, get into dire financial crisis? Should the local ministry continue to exist? That is a valid, heart searching inquiry. Maybe the Lord is removing a “candlestick” because there is sin in the sanctuary. Sometimes what a church needs more than money is heartfelt repentance. Listen to this gospel exhortation given long ago to the church of Ephesus.
“I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent” (Rev. 2:1-5).
What causes a church to embrace sophisticated worldly ways to obtain funds for ministry? There are several possibilities.
First, there might be loss of faith. Fear can easily replace faith in a pressure situation. Have faith in God, church. He is on the throne. Have faith in God. He watches over His own. “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Psalms 37:25).
Second, there might be forgetfulness of Christian theology. The New Testament way of funding a gospel ministry is based on the principle of grace. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). The mentality of some religious organizations is to get, not give. “Give to me!” can become a constant cry. It is unseemly in the church.
Third, there might be failure to pray. James said, “Ye have not because ye ask not” (4:2).
Fourth, there might be a refusal by some to engage in gospel repentance. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14).
If God’s people want to voluntarily sell what they have in order to have resources to give to others and advance the gospel, then they are being very biblical. We read how the early Christians “sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:41-47).
Christian, believe this truth. God’s work, when done God’s way, shall never lack for God’s resources. Church, believe afresh that our God shall supply all our needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19).